September 11, 2014

State Roundup, September 11, 2014

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HARRIS DROPS BID: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris has withdrawn his bid to chair the Republican Study Committee following his wife’s unexpected death last month, reports Daniel Newhauser for the National Journal . Harris, R-Md., was considered a contender to chair the large coalition of conservative House members but this now likely paves the way for Rep. Mick Mulvaney to run away with the vote.

REFORMING BIZ CLIMATE: Reforming the business climate in Maryland could include a recommendation to privatize some or all of the programs within the state Department of Business and Economic Development, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The option is under discussion as the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission begins to turn the corner from fact-gathering to drafting recommendations. Those recommendations will be delivered to House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller before the beginning of the 2015 legislative session.

GOV MEETS WITH DISABILITIES PANEL: A state commission created after the death of Ethan Saylor met with Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday, about a year after its formation, according to a report in the Frederick News Post. The Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities was created by the governor last September and is tasked with improving training for first responders in situations involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

BUSCH SEEKS BIGGER DEM MAJORITY: At the end of the last General Assembly session, Democrats held 98 of the 141 seats in the House of Delegates. Despite that overwhelming majority, House Speaker Mike Busch is working to increase the number of Democratic legislators, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland.

REPUBLICAN TO RUN IN HOUSE: Lynda del Castillo has lived in the Bethesda area for more than 40 years. She follows current events, but this year, she said dissatisfaction with current policies has prompted her to run as a Republican for the House of Delegates, Elizabeth Waibel reports in the Gazette.

HUGHES’ GRANDSON CHARGED: Former Gov. Harry Hughes’ grandson has been charged with taking as much as $250,000 from his grandfather to support his heroin habit and for possessing and distributing drugs as part of a major trafficking ring on the Eastern Shore, write Jean Marbella in the Sun.

CAESARS PROBLEMS IGNORED: In Part 2 of Baltimore Brew’s series on Caesars Entertainment’s financial troubles, Mark Reutter writes that Caesars’ failure to turn a profit on its casino empire for five years running was not a topic to be broached at the glitzy grand opening of the Horseshoe Baltimore last month. Hours before a Wall Street analyst advised clients that Caesars Entertainment Corp., operator of the new casino, could wind up in bankruptcy court, the company had hosted a star-studded celebration at its South Baltimore facility.

SHOCK JUDGE BANNED: The Sun’s Ian Duncan is reporting that the state’s top court has banned retired Charles County judge Robert C. Nalley, who ordered a defendant be given an electric shock, from hearing cases, a judiciary spokeswoman said Wednesday. The Court of Appeals order, which went into effect Friday, made no mention of the shock incident but said “good cause” had been found to withdraw Nalley’s authority to sit on the bench.

CANDIDATES’ FAMILIES: Zoe Read of the Annapolis Capital writes about what it is like for the families of the candidates who also find themselves running just as hard to balance work, home and campaign.

HOGAN SEEKS BLACK VOTES: Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan vowed Tuesday night that he would aggressively compete for the votes of African Americans in November despite facing a Democratic opponent who would be the state’s first black governor, writes John Wagner in the Post.

BROWN MEETS WITH FARMERS: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was in Cordova on Monday, Sept. 8 for a roundtable with farmers and agricultural leaders to talk about current issues in one of Maryland’s top industries, writes Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat.

DEMS FILE COMPLAINT: Erin Cox of the Sun is writing that the Maryland Democratic Party filed a complaint against GOP gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan late Tuesday, alleging Hogan improperly paid for his campaign bus and skirted public financing rules. Democrats accused Hogan of cutting himself a deal that no private company would grant when he bought a recreational vehicle with his personal funds and then leased it back to the campaign for less than $700 a month.

O’MALLEY HEADS TO MINNESOTA: Gov. Martin O’Malley has been booked as the “special guest” at a Democratic dinner in Minnesota next month, adding yet another stop on the party’s speaking circuit, writes John Wagner for the Post. As he weighs a 2016 White House bid, O’Malley (D) has become a regular at such functions. After the Oct. 11 Founders Day Dinner in Minneapolis, he will have spoken at about a dozen dinners over the course of the past year.

OBAMA TO VISIT FORT MCHENRY: President Barack Obama is planning to visit Fort McHenry on Friday during the 200th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Baltimore, Matthew Hay Brown writes in the Sun.

RUSH TO JUDGMENT ON RICE: Opinionmaker Richard Vatz, in a column for MarylandReporter.com, writes that in the Ray Rice assault case, have we rushed to judgment when there are possibly mitigating considerations?

BAKER IN CHINA: Prince George’s officials are hoping to sell county development projects to Chinese investors and forge closer ties to China during a 10-day business mission, reports Jamie Anfenson-Comeau for the Gazette. Barry Hudson, spokesman for County Executive Rushern  Baker, said this trip, which began Sept. 3 and ends Friday, is the first business mission Prince George’s County has done on its own, rather than as part of a state group.

SALISBURY PUSHES ALT ENERGY: The Salisbury City Council looks to follow the region’s push for alternative energy solutions as they consider proposals for wind and solar energy options to be incorporated into the rebuild of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, reports Phil Davis for the Salisbury Daily Times.

Francis Scott Key***F.S. Key and the Song that Built America, an hour-long documentary produced by Maryland Public Television, will be broadcast tonight, Thursday, Sept, 11 at 8 p.m. on MPT. The program will be rebroadcast on Friday, Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. The documentary was produced, written and narrated by Philip Marshall, MPT’s filmmaker in residence, with funding from the Delaplaine Foundation and the Delaplaine family, owners of the Frederick News-Post.***